21 Feb 2011

Residents take cover in schools as Cyclone Atu hits

2:39 pm on 21 February 2011

There's concern for houses and crops on Vanuatu's main island of Efate as Tropical Cyclone Atu heads in a south-easterly direction.

The storm is forecast to strengthen and to bring wind gusts in excess of 200 kiolemtres an hour.

The cyclone is battering Shefa province and the secretary general of the Shefa provincial council, Michel Kalworai, says Efate island in the south-east of Shefa is bearing the brunt at the moment.

He's been trying to make contact with local offices in the various islands and says he spoke to someone this morning.

"Most of the houses are not safe, people have moved into classrooms, that's on the east of Efate, on the village of Ebao, he believes that after the previous cyclone, I think it did a little bit of damage, the bananas and root crops wasn't that much but with cyclone Atu coming past he predicts that they'll be having problem with root crops or food from the garden."

Earlier this year, Vanuatu was affected by Cyclone Vania, and to a lesser extent cyclone Yasi.